Grandmother: criticism of a geriatric terror

I REMEMBER I DIE

Although it was one of the most significant events in the Gérardmer lineup, Abuela divided some festival attendees. The issue of contention? The introductory scene, which barely hides the ins and outs of the feature film, even blithely spoils its bet for those who have seen more than three fantastic films in their life. Unforgivable discomfort for some, this strange sequence nevertheless contributes significantly to the singularity of the whole, and the fear it inspires.

Plaza takes the opposite view of the traditional premieres of productions of the genre, which seek to save their mystery. The note of intention shines from the first minutes. His film will not be a twisted horror thriller, but rather a long descent into hell towards a resolution whose inevitability echoes its opening theme: the personal tragedy of old age. Its characters face their narrative arc as their own end, both petrified by the idea of ​​imminent death and, worse still, by the transformation of the body.

Grandmother : photo, Almudena Amor, Vera ValdezTwo very involved actresses

Transformations that the filmmaker sometimes films as a reality that is denied, sometimes as a nightmarish process. If he does not hesitate to show the nudity of an old body, an image rarely shown in the cinema and yet banal, he also stages a rather tetanizing nightmare sequence, where our heroine sees her decomposing body in real time. Or how to crystallize a fundamental concern, for being one of the only ones to be founded. Generally working in refined fantasy cinema, Plaza returns to the original power of the genre: that of highlighting our little anxieties to better crack human nature.

In fact, Grandma fits very well into his filmography. The film is highly collected, he uses the camera without ever limiting himself to it, and remains above all entirely devoted to his subject, even thanks to his script. We therefore follow two women, grandmother and granddaughter, facing a form of old age. The first deals with the last years of her life. The second, a model about to break through, fights against the express expiration of Western beauty canons. Her reunion, due to an accident that leaves the grandmother of the title mute, will further weaken a protagonist who literally sees her image disappear from public space.

Of course, by weakening, we mean tyrannizing, if it is possible to turn heavily to the supernatural. Because the Grandma in question, played by the impressive vera valdezherself a model in her time, she does not wish her the best, and will not be satisfied with haunting the dreams of her little daughter Susana (Almudena Love). Little by little, the specter of old age takes hold of them.with remarkable efficiency.

Photo Vera Valdeza warm apartment

old but golden

Before being the sincere pioneer of an old-fashioned fantasy ([REC] he worked on the ancestral fear of the image; Veronica explored, to a lesser extent, that of the urban myth), Paco Plaza is above all an aesthetic experimenter. Many still maintain that he will never do anything more terrifying than the choreographed sequence shots of [REC]but it must be recognized that Grandma quite an impressive staging sensea fortiori in the era of the decadence of Prestidigitation-like the Americans and their mass-produced gadgets.

Aging is both a subject of study and a means of terror. which the director makes the most of thanks to unsustainable camera movements or – and this is probably the most amazing thing – a sense of composition that belongs only to him. The visual parallels made between the two characters could seem vulgar if they did not emanate a sick strangeness, as during the sequence of the mirrors, almost too precise not to make your hair stand on end, where the one in the bathroom, however, a very common cliché.

Photo Almudena LoveThe mirror, a cliché but very well used here

In the same way that it lets the decrepitude of the local dweller rot its main decoration, a classic apartment that actually hides dark corners. Susana sleeps fully between the field and off-screen, as if it was about to slip definitively into the dark. With the stakes revealed in the opening, Pilar’s fear becomes a kind of sword of Damocles for the heroine and the viewer, who suspects her the first time they see her. He thus enters directly into Susana’s psyche, suspicious of everything that reminds him of the fatality of her destiny.

The fate of Plaza, very happy to have immediately freed himself from the usual narrative limitations, translated into long panoramas, all the more difficult since they reveal nothing that we do not already know: a sadistic face perched on a window, the horror of death. . Once again, she bets less on the surprise effect than on the dramatic irony and inspires us in passing with some beautiful nightmares. Until a last act announced by a morbid countdown (the birthday, another symbol of the passage of time), certainly a little weaker than the rest, but which concludes this “possession movie where the devil grows old” (Paco Plaza in the crazy movies #358).

We left worried and ready to mercilessly rip out the slightest wild white hair. Surely this is the desired effect.

Grandma: French Poster

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